After landing in Taipei, I walked up to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, where I saw lots of really interesting calligraphy done during the Japanese occupation. From there, I made a trip to BeiTou to soak in the hot springs. I had a few other destinations in mind, notably the handicraft museum up in the hills. From the Xin Bei Tou station, I walked uphill for about 30 minutes only to find a sign noting that the museum was closed for a year for renevations. Argh. Evidently, this was written in Chinese on some of the road signs that led up to the museum, but it escaped my notice. Once up there, I walked next door to Shann Garden, where I was completely ignored by all staff members while I stood at the front desk waiting for someone to say something to me. I left, annoyed, and went to the little tea house attached, where I met a much nicer and talkative staff member. Had I not been by myself and had other plans, I would have stayed and had tea in this nice little tea house. Skip the restaurant and "spa" and go to the tea house instead.
A walk back down toward the train station led me by a few hot spring resorts. I only like the private, no swimsuit kind, so that limited my choices somewhat. I chose Spring City Resort, a resort that included an "afternoon tea" with their one hour soak for NT$780 , which seemed like a decent price for hot springs near Taipei. I was actually really pleased when the afternoon tea was a delicious roasted chicken meal with soup, a great salad and dessert! The bath room was nice, with the one exception of having no windows. Other than that, though, a really reasonable and enjoyable hot spring experience.
Of course, all the walking around put me kind of late, so I missed the aboriginal Ketagalan Museum. Once back in Taipei, I decided to head to Page One books, in Taipei 101. Supposedly, they have an excellent English book selection. While I would say it was indeed pretty good, I didn't find any of the books I was looking for. The staff didn't seem very knowledgeable either. When I asked about local Taiwanese literature translated into English--of which there are a few titles--they pointed me to a section on classical Chinese literature. Huh? Whatever. I picked up some good Taiwanese history books, though, which made me quite happy.
A big moon overhead, I left 101 to search for The Tavern, which I have heard about. I had a GREAT Bangers and Mash for dinner.
All in all, things went well in Taipei. I got done all the things that are much harder to do in Kaohsiung--cultural museums, English books, great Western food. Interestingly, while my Chinese pronunciation has never caused problems in Kaohsiung, I was misunderstood twice while in Taipei. Once by a older taxi driver whose Chinese was heavily inflected by Taiwanese. He confused Min Sheng and Min Cuan road, and started to take me to the wrong place.
The second time I had troubles would be on the trip back to Kaohsiung and would have a bit more inconvenient result.